Chandler schools excel in first grading in 2 years - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler schools excel in first grading in 2 years

December 5th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler schools excel in first grading in 2 years

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Chandler-area schools scored very well in the letter grades handed out by the State Department of Education for the first time in two years, easily exceeding state averages.

If the state hadn’t changed the way they hand out the grades, some might have done even better.

Of the more than 1,700 public district and charter schools across Arizona that received preliminary grades, about 27% were given “A;” 42% got “B;” 23% C; 5% D and 2% failed.

Most parents in Chandler are sending their kids to either A or B schools. No schools in the area received a D or F and only five were given a “C.”

More than half (52%) of Chandler Unified School District schools were awarded an A, and 39% were given a “B.” The district had saw 9% of its schools a “C.”

The state did not award any letter grades the past two school years because of the campus disruptions created by pandemic-related closures.

This year, the state made some changes to its models, giving schools more credit if their students show a lot of growth in kindergarten-through-eighth grade schools.

“If our students are already here, it’s harder to move them,” said Dr. Jessica Fletcher, CUSD executive director of assessment, accountability, and research, motioning with her hand. “But if they’re lower, right, you know how it is movement-wise.”

Fletcher said there are too many variables to know if the change in the model meant some schools scored lower than they might have under the old model.

Still, Chandler schools did well. Of the 72 schools in the Chandler area – including charter schools and schools that are part of other districts, such as Mesa – 40 were recognized as “A: schools, 27 received a “B” and five received a “C.”

“For us as a district, we don’t really focus … on letter grades, but we do use the data to drive how we’re going to support our students,” Fletcher said. “I know there are districts who focus strictly on letter grades.”

“For us, it’s not about the letter grade,” she added. “If we’re doing what we should be, the letter grade is a natural byproduct of us doing what we should be doing.”

The last time the state handed out letter grades to schools, CUSD had 19 schools with an “A” and 18 with a “B” for the 2018-19 school year with five getting a “C” and none getting a “D” or “F.”

The last time CUSD had a “D” school was in the 2016-17 school year, when two got that grade.

Statewide, public school districts outperformed charter schools in many of the main categories. Districts had only 1% getting an F while 3% of charters flunked.

Statewide, 28% of district schools earned an “A: and 27% of charters got that grade. However, charters did better scoring at least a “B” with 47% compared to 42% of district schools.

In the Chandler area, only one charter school got a “C” snd the rest of charters got a higher grade.

The C schools in the Chandler area are Bologna Elementary, Champion Chandler, Galveston Elementary, Payne Junior High and San Marcos Elementary.

“We’re already having conversations with our schools who are ‘C’ letter grades, what do we need to focus on moving forward this year, so that we can improve our letter grades,” Fletcher said.

“And we’ve done that with our ‘C’ schools, but we’ve also done that with the ‘B’s.’ We have the schools’ principals who are excited to be a ‘B’ and still want to see more progress.”

The state has been handing out letter grades since 2011 after the Legislature passed a law mandating it.

Schools had until Nov. 15 to appeal their grade and the final grades will be issued either this month or in early 2023.